Though blurred vision is a common condition often thought of as a problem afflicting a more mature population, there are certain eye conditions associated with blurred vision that are more commonly seen in young adults and teens. Keratoconus is one such condition. Dr. Walter Choate diagnoses and treats keratoconus at his Nashville practice, using the most advanced technologies and treatments available.
What Is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a condition which causes the cornea to change shape, resulting in blurred vision. For those who suffer from keratoconus, the normally domed-shaped cornea gradually morphs into a conical shape. As the cornea slowly becomes increasingly cone-shaped, the vision will begin to blur and sensitivity to light and glare may develop. Keratoconus often afflicts young people beginning in the teen years and/or early twenties. Once keratoconus begins, it may progress over a period of ten years or more. Though keratoconus most often afflicts teens and people in their early twenties, it is sometimes seen in patients in their thirties and forties. Proper diagnosis is especially important for those in their thirties and forties as blurred vision may also be a sign of presbyopia.
The Signs and Symptoms of Keratoconus
Because keratoconus is a slowly progressing disease, the signs and symptoms may vary depending on the development of the disease. In general, the signs and symptoms of keratoconus include:
- Blurred vision
- Distorted vision
- Eye sensitivity to bright lights
- Increased sensitivity to glare
- Constant changes in eyeglass prescriptions
- Difficulty with night vision
The Causes of Keratoconus
Though the exact cause of keratoconus is still unknown, the following are factors that may be associated with the development of this disease:
- Long-term use of contact lenses
- Regular vigorous eye rubbing
- Enzyme abnormalities
- Down syndrome
- Family history or hereditary factors
- Some eye conditions such as vernal keratoconjunctivits and retinitis pigmentosa
Treating keratoconus begins with determining the extent of the disease and impairment of vision. For most, many of the vision problems associated with keratoconus can be easily corrected with contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses. Dr. Choate's practice offers a wide variety of contact lenses specifically designed to treat keratoconus. Contact lens options include soft, rigid gas permeable, hybrid lenses (which have a hard center and soft skirt), and scleral contact lenses, which are a larger rigid form of contact lens designed to cover the entire surface of the cornea.
In the near future, the frequent corneal and vision changes associated with keratoconus may become a thing of the past. Corneal collagen crosslinking is an emerging treatment for keratoconus. Corneal collagen crosslinking works to strengthen the corneas from further distortion. Corneal collagen crosslinking treatment uses the application of riboflavin drops to the eyes followed by a special UV light. The UV light helps activate the riboflavin to add strength to the corneas and help prevent keratoconus from advancing. Following treatment, the patient will still need eyeglasses or contact lenses for correction of the residual vision problems, but changes in that correction will be far less frequent than we currently experience.
Contact Dr. Choate Today
For more information regarding keratoconus or other ocular health questions, contact Dr. Choate's eye care practice. Our friendly, experienced staff looks forward to working with you.